This yummy Potato-Leek Quiche makes a perfect fall meal.
This essay is reprinted from The Burg: A Writer’s Diner, edited by Marybeth Slonneger, a collection of essays and photos honoring Iowa City’s renowned literary diner, the Hamburg Inn #2
Who doesn’t love September? The nights are cooling off, the kids are heading back to school under brilliant blue skies, and the offerings at the farmers’ markets have never been better. September is local grower Jocelyn Engman’s favorite garden month, because “you can get almost anything and everything out of the garden! All the summer produce is still coming on—tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and all the fall produce is kicking in—winter squash, lettuce and greens, lots of different fall root crops.”
And nothing can match the flavor of locally grown produce. As Jocelyn says, “Maybe I’m a little prejudiced—but produce always tastes better to me when it comes straight from a local garden. Do I want a mass-produced tomato from Mexico or an Iowa-grown heirloom tomato for BLTs? Hmmm . . . no contest!”
So head on over to your local farmers’ market, see what they have to offer, and then start cooking! Here are a couple of recipes featuring seasonal produce to get you started.
What could be better than meltingly soft leeks and tender chunks of potatoes baked in a savory custard? Quiche is a versatile dish that shines at brunch, lunch, and dinner. It also can be made ahead of time, as it reheats well. Serve this with a salad made from fresh baby greens for a simple and delicious meal.
When buying ingredients, look for leeks less than 1-1/2 inches in diameter with unwilted tops. And don’t be afraid to try some of the unusual varieties of potatoes offered at the farmers’ market.
1 9″ unbaked pie crust
1-2 small potatoes, peeled, cubed, and boiled until tender
1 cup leeks, white part only, cut into ¼-inch slices, sautéed in 1 Tblsp. Butter until very soft and just starting to brown
1/2 cup shredded gruyere, plus extra to sprinkle on top
2 cups whole milk
1/2 tsp. dried thyme (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 425°. To keep the pie crust from shrinking or bubbling, line the crust with foil and fill bottom with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 7 minutes, remove pie weights and foil, then bake for another 3-5 minutes. Remove crust from oven and let cool while you prepare the filling.
Reduce heat to 325° and prepare filling.
Whisk together milk, eggs, thyme, salt, and pepper.
Stir in the potatoes, leeks, and cheese.
Pour into the crust and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake 40-50 minutes.
Remove from oven and let the quiche stand for 20 minutes before serving.
Stuffed Winter Squash
Both the squash and quinoa filling can be made ahead of time and then assembled just before baking, though you may need to bake the dish longer in order to heat it fully. Serve the extra filling on the side along with a simple soup and salad.
2-3 small acorn squashes or other small winter squashes
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Gala apple, peeled and cubed
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves and cardamom
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
1-1/2 cups water
Wash outside of squash and cut off the stems.
Place in a large baking pan and bake at 375° for 20 to 40 minutes until a fork inserts easily but the squash is still firm.
Remove from oven and set aside.
In a medium saucepan toast pecans on medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove pecans from pan and set aside.
Melt butter in pan and add apple, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, add quinoa, and sauté for several minutes more.
Stir in raisins and add water. Cover and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, until all the water has been absorbed and the apples and quinoa are tender.
Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Return to baking pan and fill centers with quinoa mixture. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately.